Last Monday I headed over to Midcounty Park to see what wildflowers were blooming yet. I was concerned that I had missed the trillium, but as it turned out, not much had emerged just yet. I expect to see lots of wildflowers in bloom when I return next week.
I did find some fiddleheads coming up. I love how the fronds look as they unfurl: something akin to snails on curved sticks and hooded cobras.
Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, was out. One of the earliest wildflowers to bloom in southwestern Virginia, bloodroot has an interesting lobed leaf.
That's not to say that I had an uneventful hike. You can pick up the main trail behind the picnic shelter beside the Frog Pond swimming pool. It runs along a ridge before heading downslope to a wet area that's home to skunk cabbage and lots of annoying gnats. There's a short little wooden footbridge crossing the mucky spot. I had just stepped out on the wooden footbridge when my eye spotted something slim and reddish brown moving in the area directly under my outstretched foot.
Around here, slim and reddish brown means "snake" more than anything else, but it wouldn't have been unusual to see a salamander either. I didn't want to step on the critter, whatever it was, so I jerked my foot out father than I normally would, over extending my stride. That wouldn't have been a problem except for the wet, mossy surface of the wood boards. I slipped and landed hard on my butt and left elbow. Pain shot through my arm like I've never felt before, followed by a ringing numbness. I was certain that I had broken my elbow and spent several minutes gasping at the pain before I could even look at it. There were a couple of parallel scratches under my arm, but there wasn't any blood to speak of. After a few more minutes I cautiously tried moving my fingers. They seemed to work okay, but that buzzing funny bone nerve hurt like hell. I decided that my arm wasn't broken and gingerly got to my feet.
Then it occurred to me to look for the creature that had caused such drama. No more than a foot to the side of the bridge was Mr. Toad, blinking his eyes unconcernedly at me.
That night my arm and butt hurt so much that I could only sleep after taking some pain relievers, but it wasn't until later in the week that the bruise on my butt finally came up. It's a glorious contusion, at least the size of a saucer. A spectacular riot of purples, yellows, and greens. It's as if I have my own wildflower bloom on my backside. I was tempted to take a picture of it to post, but my better judgement led me to refrain from this. Besides, this baby is worth at least 50 cents for a look see. It is, by far, the ugliest bruise I've ever had in my life. I only hope that I don't have to go to the emergency room any time soon, because I just know the nurse is going to see this bruise and then asked me in a hushed, concerned voice about my personal safety.
And I don't know if I can admit to the nurse that a toad was responsible for this.
He could have at least thanked me for not squishing him instead of just sitting there like a bump on a log.